Harold on History | A Look Back at 70 Years of NHLBI

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has played a pivotal role in the prevention and treatment of heart disease over the last 70 years. As such, its history has also helped to shape the ACC over the last seven decades.

NHLBI was established in June 1948 as part of the National Heart Act signed by President Harry S. Truman. The Act established the National Heart Institute under the National Institutes of Health to "provide for research and control relating to diseases of the heart and circulation in a supreme endeavor to develop speedily more effective means of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of such disease." (The Institute’s mission was expanded to cover research on lung diseases in 1969 and blood disorders in 1976 - thus NHLBI.)

Cardiology Magazine ImageFranz Groedel, MD, MACC
Cardiology Magazine ImageBruno Kisch, MD, MACC

The advent of the National Heart Institute and a focus on federal research funding were among the key reasons that 13 cardiologists, led by Franz Groedel, MD, MACC, and Bruno Kisch, MD, MACC, founded the ACC a year later. Closer proximity to NHLBI also played a major role 16 years later in the College’s decision to move its headquarters from New York City to Bethesda, MD.

Over the many decades since, the ACC has advocated before Congress for continued funding for NHLBI research and programs, and leaders and staff on both sides have worked closely together to facilitate and promote research, guidelines and best practices aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with, or at risk of, cardiovascular disease. Practice-changing NHLBI research has not only been published in ACC's JACC Journals, but taken center stage at ACC's Annual Scientific Session. In addition, NHLBI leaders, including most recent directors Elizabeth G. Nabel, MD, FACC, and Gary H. Gibbons, MD, FACC, have been frequent keynote speakers at ACC events, as well as recipients of the College’s Distinguished Service Awards.

Cardiology Magazine Image

For more information on NHLBI, its mission, leadership and historic events go to www.NIH.gov. As part of its 70th Anniversary celebration, NHLBI is hosting a lecture series throughout the year featuring prominent thought leaders representing areas of high scientific priority in heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders.

Among those presenting: Daniel Levy, MD, FACC, on lessons from NHLBI's Framingham Heart Study; Nanette Wenger, MD, MACC, on the past, present and future of cardiovascular disease in women; and Eugene Braunwald, MD, MACC, on his personal odyssey of clinical cardiovascular research inspired by NHLBI. Click here for a complete list of lectures and dates, as well as a direct link to archived videos of those that have already taken place.

Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, ACC History, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (U.S.), Hylobates, Anniversaries and Special Events, Leadership, New York City, National Institutes of Health (U.S.), Research, Heart Diseases, Academies and Institutes, Awards and Prizes, Lung Diseases, Sleep Disorders

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